Heya, Monster.

A SoberBlog by a TallWoman.

Archive for the category “Loss”

2016 Word in Review.

Ah, what a full, full, incredibly full year it has been. Of course there are the memes and the constant barrage of Facebook notices (I’m not hip enough to be on Instagram – not yet anyway (*smile*)) decrying the sad losses of so many artists who have been nearest and dearest to us. As a US citizen, it has also been an incredibly full and turbulent year in our government. No matter your political leanings, we have been through the ringer as a country. And on a personal level, with the exception of parenthood and sobriety, I have gone through the biggest, seismic shift of my adult life, which was losing my job at a school I loved with all my heart, to finding a new position in a new school, and adjusting. Adjusting to so much – place, people, history, the way things were versus the way things are now. … Oh! And I almost forgot. I hit my first year of sobriety on June 9, 2016 and commemorated the totally tubular event with my first ever, honest-to-goodness tattoo.

Man.

2016, you have had a lot goin’ on with your bad self.

And the word that led me through all of these many ups and downs?

kindness

Such a simple, simple word, and yet? So profound.

Originally, I had chosen the word in order to be aware of the need to be kind to myself. Being someone with a need to please, as well as a good dose of perfectionism, and trying to juggle more than I should – and all of that done, until very recently, with a hangover the size of the Northern Hemisphere…. It was pretty rough going for a long, long while. I needed something, some word to anchor me and to remind me, ‘Oh, yeah. Look out for yourself.’ Throughout this year, I found myself saying “No” more times than I have in the past (Maybe 10? Still! A good start.), and I often took time to relax or, especially, to savor moments with my family, rather than thinking about all the things I should be doing. I found the word grounded me in the important things – my babes, my hubs, my immediate family, my friends – in ways that I don’t know I’ve really been able to appreciate until now. Of course, much of the enjoyment had to do with being present rather than drunk. There is that fact. But still. The reminder to be kind to myself really gave me the gift of my People again. And for that, I am incredibly grateful.

In terms of the year itself, I will echo many similar sentiments that 2016 was not, in and of itself, a very kind year.

However.

The pain and loss I felt in the process of losing my job and then finding and transitioning to a new one was constantly led by ‘Kindness’ at the helm. Truly. The people around me were full of generosity, compassion, support, and above all, kindness. Again, I find myself so grateful…. And feeling so humbled by the hundreds of people who showed me kindness and love. I feel so lucky. So blessed. I cringe thinking what this year would have been like without all of those kind hearts around me. So, so lucky.

My word of the year surprised me in the many ways it showed up, and with whom it accompanied. I feel rather giddy just thinking about it and its many facets.

Day 570, Goodnight, Year.*man_in_the_moon_stock_by_jinxmim-d74sgx0.png

 

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Princess Leia’s Sister.

I have always felt alone with my diagnosis of bipolar. I don’t know anyone else who has it and who speaks openly about having it. In my life and in its circles, I feel like an anomaly. Like I have something no one else knows about. Something that makes me different and other and a little separate …..

I’ve also had these feelings about being an alcoholic. (Ugh. That word is so ugly, isn’t it?) Feelings of isolation and difference. I have found myself wondering ‘Why me?’ I get over it and get down to living, but sometimes I catch myself feeling alone.

Growing up, and Now – especially in adulthood – I’ve always had the vibrant Carrie Fisher somewhere in my peripheral vision as someone who gets me. Who knows about Life. Who has lived hard. Loved much. Been loud and outspoken and True to Herself. And I have always admired her for living her life unabashedly. And I find such inspiration in her living her life out loud so that others (me! and people like me!) would know that No. We are Not Alone. Nope. No way. No how. Not a possibility. In fact? There are many, many, many other people like me. Like Us. And all because this Woman, this iconic, emblematic, die-hard feminist Fisher said who she was. What she was. No apologies. No justifications. She laid it all out there. She gave her Truth to us – to me – and her example frees us to be who we are. Empowering. Hopeful. Connected.

Day 568, May the Force Be With You.

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Artwork by Katie Cook

 

Hello, Out There.

Hello, friends. It’s been a little while. Yow. Time passes when you’re busy doing stuff, doesn’t it? I’ve been thinking about you a lot, and checking in pretty regularly on WP to read your words and journeys. I just haven’t had the chance to sit down and write you my own epistle until now. Sitting feels good. *smile* As does writing you. *clickityclack*

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So, the End of Shows went beautifully. Both were well-received and well-attended. The Shakespeare show (Midsummer) was love-ily to have because it kept me grounded and connected to both my past, present, and future (an 18-year history with the company, as well as looking forward to directing and being with my favorite people again next season/summer). While on the other hand, the mega-musical marked a significant Ending because it was the last show I will direct at my now-former school. The show itself was strong, vibrant, funny, and a little naughty. I definitely felt I went out with a Bang!

Of course, the Universe is always there to remind in so many different ways that I am not in control, nor can I, nor should I try to control the world around me. With all the anxiety surfacing inside me this past month around the closing of my shows, the Job being well-and-truly final, readying our house for the market, looking towards starting the new-*sparkly* Job, trying to spend time with my sister-who-was-in-town-from-Australia-during-my-busiest-two-weeks-of-the-summer, leaving for vacation, and now about to hit the ground running with the new job and the house….. Well? My anxiety has just climbed and climbed and climbed. And in each of those pockets of Life, the Universe has aptly put me in my place again and again.

First. My beautiful, amazing, phenomenal sister left 3 Thursdays ago. We have a tradition in our family, that whenever someone is driving away (the Leaver), the people staying behind (the Leavees) wave until they can’t see the car any longer. And, weather be damned, the Leaver/s in the car roll their windows down and wave back until they can’t see the Leavees any longer, too. So, with this tradition well-established, my sister hopped into her rental car, rolled down her window, got the last teary hugs and kisses from me and the babes, and then turned to go down the driveway. When what should appear? You guessed it! The Universe. In the form of a school bus (in July). It came around the corner and then pulled to the side of the road with its red stop sign shining, and its red lights flashing…. We just laughed. Because what else could we do? It was perfect. And funny. And gave us the chance for a few more hugs and kisses.

Second. The last show of the mega-musical…. All day, I just had nerves. It felt Epic. Important. One of those I-am-going-to-remember-this-event-for-the-rest-of-my-life-type things. So here we are chugging along, I’m watching the show and just enjoying it and laughing at all sorts of new moments in the show, and then. Crash. At the end of intermission as I’m about to start the show again, the hubs (who was in the show) comes up to me and says another actor and the pit say the music director is either drunk or high. Oh, what?! Gah. So I race back to speak with the person and to see if they’re right. …. Yep. Sure as shit. …. He is so far gone, I don’t know that even speaking with him would do any good. I pulled a musician aside and asked him to push the show, the cues forward if the MD dropped the ball on anything. So the whole second half, I’m just holding on and hoping we make it through the show without any mishaps (we did), and also trying to figure out what to do about this man. It was just odd. In all my years, I have not had this happen to me in any way, shape, or form. And then for it to be my last. I don’t know, it felt odd, though not unexpected (I wrote about my misgivings in an earlier post). With all the adrenaline now wrapped around this problem, the significance of it being my Last Show dropped. And a bit of regret, following the show, I didn’t handle the situation very well. I skirted around it, made sure he had a ride, etc. However, I followed up the next day and feel much better about that. I know if we had had a Sunday closing, I would have fired him and told him not to come back. But since we closed on a Saturday, I just wanted to get through the show, and we did. On the phone the next day, I was angry and sad, particularly because this is a show at a high school with teenagers in the production. The choice to get drunk before a (professional) gig felt incredibly selfish. He could have compromised the entire production. …. I asked him if he thought this was a problem, and he said that he did think so, that his mother was very sick, and not for the first time. Then, I offered to send him some resources via email, and promised that I would follow-up with him in a few weeks to see how he was doing. I penalized his pay, and then later, apologized to the teenagers for not being more assertive the night before. I apologized for the MD’s behavior, and told them what he did was not okay. It was messy, but at least I followed up on all of the loose ends.

Following all of this, my mother came down for a week and helped me get a ton of stuff done with the house. The hubs and I have one more week to work, and then, I am hoping we are set to show our house starting next week. Keep your fingers crossed.

Third. This past week, we went out of town to the shores of Lake Superior. Beautiful. Majestic. Mighty. …. But my anxiety was really high. Incredibly high. About death. About losing my babes – especially in the midst of the water, which just seemed incredibly powerful. I know I was driving the hubs nuts on one particular day, because he had them in the water amidst these big waves. I just saw the immensity of the water stretching out behind them, and the strength of each wave as it rolled in and hit them, and I was just So. Scared. That they would be knocked over. Pulled out before we could reach them. Before I could save them. … So all this, and then? Oh, there’s the Universe again. This time it showed up in the form of sister-brother battles. Our 3-year old kicked his sister’s head, which banged the edge of a coffee table. Stitches at a small-town ER. Ah, vacation memories…. But really. It acted as a good reminder that I really can’t control anything. And I know that deep down, but it doesn’t always stop me from wanting to try. Letting go is a lesson I need to learn again and again and again it seems. … Also? The accident freed me up and helped me to embrace the waves and the water with my family later that day. We got splashed and soaked, and we laughed and held onto one another.

Day 432, Thanks, Universe. I needed that.

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A Monster Mini-Update.

Hello, friends. Monster here and doing well. It’s been awhile since I last checked in because I have been mega-busy. Here are the haps in a nutshell:

  • Opened ‘Midsummer.’ Yay! So cute, so funny, so silly, so good. It is still running through next week.
  • Opened another show this week – a mega-musical – to mark my last production at my current school. It’s taken a lot of late nights staying up, painting, working, etc. Lots of little pieces needed doing, but? They got done. Huh. Zah. Also, my favorite part are all of the grads and families who have already come back to see the show and give me  hug. So beautiful and incredible to be surrounded by so much love.
  • In the meantime, I joined the committee hiring my counterpart at my new school.
  • Started digging into my new office/area and reorganizing and making it my own … Very, very slowly.
  • Welcomed my little sister home for a visit. She arrived last week with her fiance from Australia (whee!), and is in the state until the 28th. With all that’s been going on, I haven’t had a lot of time to see her, but am looking forward to one or two days devoted to her and the fam.
  • And lastly, I decided (two Sundays ago) that it would be a great idea to get our house on the market in the coming month, and then find a house, and move. Crazy? Probably! *smile* So many things to do! A lot of small upgrades that will help with the price point, I hope.

In Soberland, since sharing my year-long sobriety with my friends and family on Facebook, I have had so many kind, amazing connections with people. Even two weeks later, I have people telling me how proud they are, or congratulating me. The Love is palpable. … And it feels a lot freer, too. Not that I was hiding or ashamed of my sobriety, but there is another level of ease because more people know and I don’t have to navigate as many social moments now. Liberating.

Alright, off for more house porn ….. It is so addicting! (But not in a I-need-help kind of way. I swear. *smile*)

Day 410, I’ve missed all you cool-cats.*

 

Feelin’ All the Feels.

A few mini-vignettes…..

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Putting one foot in front of the other, inch by inch… And I’ve found myself Here and Now.

I am struggling because I am feeling so much/everything all at once, and then simultaneously trying to not feel anything (impossible!) in order to protect myself. It’s weird going through loss in slow-motion….

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This morning, I laughed at myself because I was thinking of a conversation I was having with a friend the other week (he knows I am sober) and I was expressing to him how great sobriety is because I feel everything, and how horrible sobriety is because I feel everything. He laughed in a gentle way and talked about what a gift it is to get it ALL back, and I agreed with him. But today? Um. The jury is still out.

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When I was a little younger than I am now, 25ish or so, I remember a conversation I had with my dad…. He said, ‘Monster, you just feel SO MUCH.’ And I do. I don’t know if it’s because of my artist’s heart, or my Piscean nature, or my bipolar, or what, but there is something in me – and always has been – that amplifies my emotions on a scale wide and deeper than most human mortals. It’s a bit of an honor badge form me, because my emotions really make me feel like Me. But? It’s also a real kick in the head, because gah! So many feelings. All. The. Time.

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Lastly, when I met my husband 9 years ago, I felt like I had found someone who honored all of my insides – the muck, the beauty, the murk, and the plummeting depths – and I was wholly myself. All of the time. And? He didn’t run the other way. *smile* At one point in one of our early day-dates, he asked me how I was and I said, ‘Fine.’ He stopped me right there and told me that his mentor (an acting teacher) always says that FINE= Fucked Up, Insecure, Neurotic, & Emotional. … Yes!!! *smile* Don’t you love that? Ever since then, I have always been careful about saying the word ‘Fine,’ unless I’m singing to the Indigos of course….  And I’m also skeptical of anyone who says they are Fine. It’s a good rule of thumb I have found.

Day 359, Take It Away, Girls …. Closer to Fine

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Slip Out the Back, Jack.

That’s what I would like to do…. Just slip out the back.

The last week of classes is here and I know there are things planned for coworkers who are leaving, and there’s a big faculty/staff lunch on Thursday, and then my friends are having a party for me on Saturday, and it’s all kind and wonderful…. But getting to school this morning, I am just filled with a feeling rip off the bandage, get it over with. Be done. And it’s not that I want to run away screaming, or anything, but there just seems to be so much ceremony and … Waiting. Just waiting for the end to be the end.

It’s complicated.

Add into the mix the show I’m directing this summer (which gets started tonight), and I don’t know. I want to celebrate and go out with a bang (so to speak), but I also just want to be done. Argh.

Day 357, creeeeeeaaaaaaaaak…….

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Heya, Hope.

Morning Sunrise Photo Depicts actual Cloud with Silver Lining

Good morning.* Some big things have happened in the past month – so big, I can’t even really believe it all fit inside the time of 35 days.

So, on April 1st, I found out my teaching contract would not be renewed next year. (I’m sorry I keep repeating this fact.)

But then? Even inside all of my sadness and grief and loss, I got shit done. References, resumes, cover letters, job hunts, applications …. Which led to …

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A job interview! …. Even better? …. For a theatre teaching position! A full-time, department lead, theatre position. It was like finding a unicorn. Seriously.

1st interview led to a second, all-day interview extravaganza about a week later. Discovered the school is Happy. Very open. Liberal. Kind. …. I found myself getting hopeful, but also trying to stay pragmatic – I kept generating applications and getting them out so that I wouldn’t lose momentum.

Had to wait a looooooooong week as there was a second candidate going through the same process as I had – teaching 2 classes, meeting with a student panel, HR, current teachers, and then another interview at the end of the crazy day. I decided I just wanted it to be a good fight, because what could be better than that?

So, that week went by, and I got the call offering me the position. The principal was SO kind and supportive and enthusiastic. I accepted (of course!), signed my contract yesterday, and now? The future waits just around the corner. Yow!

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Throw in all the sadness and anger and frustration, doing my regular teaching job, as well as opening and closing a show, auditioning for a second, and prepping for a third, oh, and my family and personal time, some consistent retail therapy, new hair-do, lots and lots of hours spent listening to lots and lots of great music, and to top it off, coffee – lots of it, and then, after all that, you pretty much get the gist of my month. *smile* (I can smile now.)

Oh, and?!

I hit 11 months on May 9th! (I am officially shopping for final tattoo designs and artists for my year-a-versary.)

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So. Much. Happening.

Day 340, How did that happen?! Holy shite.

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Monster 101.

Just a quick check-in from, blue, furry, li’l ol’ me.

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It’s actually my 101st post – can you believe it? I can’t. To quote a cliche, it feels like only yesterday when I started this whole ding-dang thang.

News updates: I’ve got some job applications floating out in the world, with my eye on getting at least twice as many out there by the end of next week.

I continue to be monstrously (teehee) busy with my current job. Lots of hours spent with my students, which is where I want to be, while on the other side of the equation is a little bitterness that 1. It will be ending soon; 2. That this work (and the work of my coworker and dear friend) has never really gone recognized by the people that be; and 3. A nagging anxiety of losing This. This amazing, precious thing I have.

But? I continue to be Here. Sober. And taking Life by each minute. And so far? That’s working out. Not easy, but happening.

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And doing my best to stay connected with you and your updates. It really does me some Good when I can just sit and check-in with where You are. Truly, it does. Even if I can’t respond, I am so happy following your adventures. Keep ’em coming, sober, happy (and some not) people. Which then puts this song into my head immediately…

Shiny Happy People

Day 316, Grover is my Spirit Muppet.

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Comfort. Stop.

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When I was a teenager and a new driver, my best friends and I would frequently visit a nearby town. In those journeys, I learned that my best’s grandfather would call pit stops or bathroom breaks ‘Comfort Stops.’ And so, we would frequently make Comfort Stops ourselves, just to explore, to look around, to be silly, and sometimes to seek actual comfort. *smile*

In the past eight days, I have been desperately seeking comfort in whatever ways I possibly could. Reaching out to all of you was scary, but I am so glad I did. Your responses and your care bolstered me, even though I did not have the energy nor the words to thank you at the time. Please know you gave me strength, particularly in seeing the good of my sobriety inside this shitstorm. I had thought my boss had stolen that from me, but your reminders helped me hold onto the good, and not allow him to take that accomplishment from me. I keep telling myself, ‘He’s not worth it. He’s not worth throwing my sobriety away. He’s not worth that first drink.’ And truly, he is not.

The community of love and support has flooded my life. Alumns, families, parents, friends, my family ….. It is all so incredibly humbling. Their words, their empathy, their kindnesses…. Who would have ever thought that my word for the year – Kindness – would appear in the ways it has this week. Emails, hand-written letters, tons of texting, phone calls, flowers, food, and sosososo many hugs…. And tears. There is so much good in the world. And although one small person is creating this big event in my life, I know that I am surrounded by an even bigger entity than him – a family, which was nurtured and created these past 15 years. They are all so amazing.

An update on the week …. I thought last Friday was one of the worst days of my life, but I was wrong. Monday happened, but then because of Monday, Tuesday happened – which was Worse. And then, out of nowhere, Wednesday happened, which is my mind was the absolute WORST. Throughout this entire experience, I believe my boss has treated me atrociously. I have not been shown a modicum of respect, nor have I even been treated humanely. Seriously. The hoops I have had to jump through, and the fear that has heightened inside of me because of this treatment has made this loss far more painful than I ever thought possible.

However? Yesterday, I didn’t cry. I sang my butt off in the car as loud as I could (Indigo Girls), and because I can’t sleep, I wake up early and curl my hair and watch silly, wonderful movies (Nottinghill), and I sing at work, and I find ways to use my hands – power tools not excluded, and I eat food that makes me happy, and I say ‘yes’ to being with people – in real life, or at the very least in real time, and that has made all the difference. (Sorry to steal your line, Robert Frost.)

Day 305, Feeling all the love.*

 

FKCK.

Or, in layman’s terms: FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.

I have just edited my first draft/post because I am that worried about my current situation – and I’m ANONYMOUS.

Without giving any details… I truly thought Friday was the worst it could possibly be. There was solace that I had made it through that day, so then I can make it through most anything. But then today shows up and tricks me, because nope! There is a ‘Worse-Yet’ scenario to this shit-show. And I can’t even tell you what it is because I am so scared of upper management repercussions, I don’t feel comfortable writing about it in vague terms here.

I cannot believe this. I am writing because I want to connect with all of you and vent my frustrations, but I can’t even give them words for fear of repercussions. And did I mention? I’m ANONYMOUS.

Gah. I feel like…. I have no words.

Am I crazy? I feel like I’m going fucking crazy. I know I’m in theatre, but I really cannot stand real-life drama. Truly. I can’t. This is above and beyond anything I have experienced before. I am being Systematically. Shut. Down.

And?

It’s Day 300. Part of me is so angry that this happened today of all days. They have stolen my grieving process, they’ve stolen my voice, and they have stolen one small bit of joy I have been looking forward to for 299 days.

I am ready for the shit to stop being shitty.

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I would love to be saved right now.

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